The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 2)

Columbia swoops like a bird of prey into Edwards Air Force Base on 18 January 1986, just ten days ahead of the Challenger tragedy. Commander Robert "Hoot" Gibson would later refer to this mission as "The End of Innocence" ... for after Challenger the Shuttle program would never be the same again. Photo Credit: NASA

Robert “Hoot” Gibson (right) and George “Pinky” Nelson lead the 61C crew out of the Operations & Checkout Building for launch. Following is crewmate Steve Hawley. Photo Credit: NASA

On Mission 61C, launched 30 years ago next week, on 12 January 1986, Space Shuttle Columbia was making her first orbital flight in over two […]

The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 1)

"Mission Impossible" finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

“Mission Impossible” finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

Though three decades have passed, January 1986 has become entrenched in humanity’s popular consciousness as one of the darkest months in space history, for on its 28th day the crew of Challenger were lost in […]

Mission to Jupiter: 25 Years Since the Launch of Galileo (Part 2)

Atlantis roars into orbit on 18 October 1989 to deploy the Galileo spacecraft on its mission to Jupiter. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, next week, shuttle mission STS-34 and the crew of Atlantis rocketed into orbit to launch NASA’s Galileo spacecraft on a lengthy odyssey to Jupiter. As described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history […]

'The Tether Is Broken': The Second Flight of the Tethered Satellite (Part 2)

The Tethered Satellite System (TSS) begins its deployment from the payload bay mast on STS-75. Photo Credit: NASA

Eighteen years ago this week, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on record: the reflight of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R). Originally conceived by the late Professor Guiseppe Colombo […]

'Rock Solid': The Second Flight of the Tethered Satellite (Part 1)

Columbia thunders into orbit on 22 February 1996, 18 years ago today. Her launch sent hearts leaping into throats within seconds of liftoff. Photo Credit: NASA

Eighteen years ago today (22 February), Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on record: the Tethered Satellite System (TSS). Originally conceived […]

Mission 61C: The Original ‘Mission Impossible’ (Part 2)

“Mission Impossible” finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

On Mission 61C, launched on this day (12 January) in 1986, Space Shuttle Columbia was making her first orbital flight in over two years. Late in January 1984, a month after returning from her STS-9 […]

Mission 61C: The Original ‘Mission Impossible’ (Part 1)

Columbia swoops like a bird of prey into Edwards Air Force Base on 18 January 1986, just 10 days ahead of the Challenger tragedy. Commander Robert “Hoot” Gibson would later refer to this mission as “The End of Innocence” … for after Challenger the shuttle program would never be the same again. Photo Credit: […]

Astronaut Mike Foale: A Legend for Britain and the US Leaves NASA

Mike Foale works on the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-103 servicing mission in December 1999. This was the first and only shuttle flight to remain in orbit over Christmas. Photo Credit: NASA

Last week’s announcement by NASA of the retirement of astronaut Mike Foale leaves just one representative—Tim Peake—on active status to carry […]

'Just Fix It': The Unlikely Mission of STS-60 (Part 2)

The STS-60 crew, commanded by Charlie Bolden, included the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard the shuttle, Sergei Krikalev. Clockwise from the top are Ken Reightler, Charlie Bolden, Ron Sega, Jan Davis, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and Sergei Krikalev. Photo Credit: NASA

By the summer of 1992, the Soviet Union had collapsed. A coup the previous August—only […]

'This Can’t Be Real': The Unlikely Mission of STS-60 (Part 1)

Rising atop a column of golden fire, Discovery sets the Florida sky ablaze with the dawn of a new era of co-operation in space. Photo Credit: NASA

On 8 February 1994, the ABC television programme Good Morning America broadcast a live link-up between three Russians aboard the Mir space station—cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev, Yuri Usachev, […]